The Millennials: How to Use Print to Capture the Attention of the Technology-Driven Generation

Four young adults sitting in booth (focus on couple in foreground)
Four young adults sitting in booth (focus on couple in foreground)

Officially, a person is a millennial if they reached young adulthood sometime around the year 2000. Also commonly referred to as Generation Y, these are people who are just now becoming the age where they matter most — at least as far as marketing demographics are concerned. They’re starting to break out on their own, live their own lives, and spend a great deal of money. Historically, they’ve also been the most difficult to market to for one simple reason: technology.

Chances are, if you happen to see a young person who can’t be bothered to look up from their smartphone or tablet for a single second to take a look at the world around them, you’re looking at a millennial — or at least a stereotypical one. In reality, it’s actually pretty straightforward to market to millennials, as long as you go about it in the right way.

Be Relevant

By far, the absolute best way to market to millennials is the same way you market to anyone — by being as relevant as possible. Go out of your way to understand Generation Y. Discover how they think and — more importantly — what they’re looking for. You can try all the flashy gimmicks you want or sink a huge amount of time and effort into social networking and similar bits of technology in an attempt to gain a foothold in this ever-important market, but none of it will mean a thing if your message is completely irrelevant to the people you’re after.

It’s Print’s Time to Thrive

Print marketing is actually one of the most powerful techniques you can use to attract the attention of the millennial generation for a very simple reason: it’s difficult to ignore. Whereas baby boomers have decades of experience sifting through direct mail and advertisements in general, it’s still something unique to the younger generation. This makes it more impactful, giving you a competitive advantage over those who forgo this route.

You can also make your print and digital campaigns work together. Use a QR code on your direct mailers, for example, to give millennials the opportunity to begin the conversation in print and finish it online where they feel most comfortable.

Personality Talks

Each new generation tends to be a little more informal than the one before it, but not necessarily in the way you might think. What this trend really means is that each new generation embraces a true sense of personality more than the one before it. Millennials are after a sense of fun and a company that represents a hipper image that they want to be part of. While injecting as much personality as possible into your mailers might not work for that 50-year-old housewife, it will absolutely capture the attention of a millennial.

With each passing year, the millennial generation becomes more and more important. They’re already poised to overtake the baby boomer generation in spending, sooner rather than later. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. By going after the millennial generation now, you’ll begin to amass an army of loyal followers ready to spend money on your products or services for decades to come.

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What Mom and Pop Shops Can Teach Us About Customers and Relationships

What Mom and Pop Shops Can Teach Us About Customers and Relationships
Male Owner Of Coffee Shop
Before the age of major chain stores, most towns and cities across the country were served by small “mom and pop” shops. These stores are nothing like the enormous stores found in many places today. Instead, they tended to have a more specialized purpose. These small businesses served people for generations, and many of them were excellent at building relationships with their customers.
The importance of building relationships with customers remains incredibly important, no matter what your company’s size may be. To help you successfully accomplish this, let’s take a look back at what helped those old mom and pop shops stay in business and thrive.

They put the “service” in customer service.

Successful mom-and-pop shop operators really knew how to serve their customers. They paid attention to the people, asked questions about what they sought, and helped them find what they were looking for.

In modern commerce, this translates to establishing your website and business practices to make things as easy as possible for your customers. People shouldn’t have to struggle to find products or contact information on your website. When they call you, they should be put in touch with someone who can actually help them right away.

They knew their customers.

Shops of old knew those who patronized their establishment. They knew them by name and knew their regular purchases.

While this might not be possible (depending on your company’s size), focus on personalizing the experience whenever possible. Create marketing materials that use the customer’s name and company and segment email lists to reflect customer behavior. People are more likely to pay attention and take advantage of offers when they can see how the offer applies to them.

They understood their customers’ needs.

The business leaders of old understood what customers wanted when they came into their establishment. They lived in the community and knew the people. They understood trends and needs. This allowed them to create a business that met those needs and was an important part of the town.

With the advent of online commerce, the communities served by a business (even a small one) might easily stretch across several states, if not across the country or around the world. Even so, it’s still important to speak with your customers whenever possible, and use data and market research to learn what your customers want. Surveys and conversations with regular customers can offer tremendous insight. Track the spending habits of your customers and see how different customer personas are leveraging your products and services. Market research about your industry can also add much needed information to the equation. Combining these different tactics can create a very good picture of what your customers seek, allowing you and your business to meet those needs and exceed customers’ expectations.

Creating a successful business today means building relationships with customers and meeting their needs. In years past, it was the mom and pop shops who had mastered this skill. To learn how to improve your relationship with your customers, you can look to these examples for a few lessons.

Rebranding: What It Is, How You Can Do It, and What It Can Do For You

Rebranding: What It Is, How You Can Do It, and What It Can Do For You

rebranding word cloud

Even the strongest brands eventually go through some type of an identity crisis. Maybe the audience you’ve been targeting for all these years no longer needs the product or service you offer. Maybe you suffered a bit of a setback from a public relations perspective and are looking for a way to start fresh. Rebranding involves a whole lot more than just putting a new coat of paint on an old house — it’s about getting rid of the old so you can make way for the new in the freshest and most impressive ways possible. If you’re in the process of rebranding or are even considering it, your marketing materials will always play an important role in the proceedings.

What is Rebranding?

At its core, rebranding involves starting out with a new marketing strategy that differentiates your current company identity (or the one you hope to have) from the one you had in the past. A brand new symbol, design, visual aesthetic, and even name can all be employed to help accomplish this goal.

How Can I Rebrand?

To begin the process of rebranding, you must first answer the question, “why are we doing this in the first place?” Once you’ve come up with a concrete answer, you need to always keep that in mind as a goal you hope to achieve. Your answer will dictate every decision you make from here on out.

Are you rebranding in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience? Your marketing materials, the logo you’re using, and even your design need to reflect that. Remember that your marketing materials were originally created with your brand in mind — every element, right down to the font being used in direct mailers, was picked because it accurately reflected the brand you were trying to present to the world at that given moment. If your brand is in the process of changing, there is no element of your marketing too small that won’t need to change along with it.

What Can Branding Do For You?

If you want an example of exactly what a successful rebranding campaign can do for your business, look no further than one of the biggest companies on the face of the Earth: Apple. It’s hard to remember a time when Apple as a corporation was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. That period wasn’t too long ago, however, and Apple was indeed in dire straits as recently as 1997.

Their successful rebranding took the world by storm when they went from “just another electronics company” that put out products many people considered overpriced, to the hippest, most forward-thinking tech company around. Apple’s rebranding campaign got rid of all the complicated terminology in favor of a simplistic campaign that reflected the products themselves. They focused on rebranding themselves as a company that put out reliable and endlessly classy products that “just worked” and have benefited handsomely from that decision ever since.

Look at rebranding for what it is: an opportunity to start fresh. There’s nothing wrong with rebranding — it is not an admission of failure or defeat. It’s a true chance to reaffirm your corporate identity with your goals and take the world by storm in a way more meaningful and more impactful than ever before.

The Re-Branding of Curious George

Half-peeled banana
Half-peeled banana
Many people are unaware of the origins of Curious George. For the youngsters who love the books and TV show today, George is just an adorable little monkey who happens to live with a man in a yellow hat. The children watch as George gets himself into all kinds of trouble, learning along with him how to problem solve.

The stories didn’t begin that way, though.

When the very first Curious George stories came out back in the 1940s, George was a monkey who had lived in Africa. The man with the yellow hat tricked George into coming out of hiding by playing on his curiosity. He originally planned to take George back to Europe and put him in the zoo. Instead, the two began to develop a relationship.

It’s interesting to note the prevailing opinions of the time. Many people looked at explorers who went into the jungle as heroes. They wouldn’t have had as many negative associations with an explorer kidnapping a monkey from the jungle as we would today.

The new books that children read today came out in the 1990s. These later books don’t really talk about how George came to live with the man in the yellow hat. The authors of these later books, which are modeled after the original books, focus on George’s curiosity and how he manages to solve his problems. The authors of the newer books recognized that people today wouldn’t appreciate the story of the man with the yellow hat kidnapping George from the jungle.

When the newer books and television series first came out, the authors focused on creating a fun story centered around a lovable monkey and the trouble he could create. Rather than focus on how the monkey and the man with the yellow hat came together, they just developed an entertaining story focused around the present.

You could say this was a re-branding of Curious George — and it was a complete success.

Successfully framing your company for success

When you set out to market your company to your customers, you must understand your audience and what they seek. The new audience of preschoolers in the 1990s and 2000s wanted an entertaining character without the baggage that came with the original, so that’s what the authors delivered.

Similarly, you should familiarize yourself with your customers enough to predict what’s going to resonate most with them. Use this to guide your marketing and re-branding efforts. Audiences might change over the years, particularly if your company’s been around for several decades, so don’t be afraid to shed parts of your original message and add in something new if it will help you reach your customers.

When it comes to advertising, nothing matters more than understanding your audience. Those familiar with the saga of Curious George will find the comparisons between the popular monkey and the marketing campaigns of evolving companies intriguing. If you’re interested in developing a new marketingcampaign, speak to us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

Stars in the night sky
Stars in the night sky
Even among those who haven’t followed the Star Trek franchise, Captain Kirk and William Shatner (the actor who played him) are household names. Whether you’re a lifelong Trekkie or only know the character’s name in passing, here are six Captain Kirk/William Shatner quotes we found particularly inspiring formarketing and business professionals.

“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis… You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”

When starting out or working your way up in business, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything there is to know about your industry. You’re not going to wake up one morning with the experience to be an industry leader. Instead, you must be willing to study and learn as you go.

“You either believe in yourself or you don’t.”

Running a business is never a sure thing. Chances are when you start your own company you’ll find yourself facing skepticism from many different people. If you want to be successful, however, you have to believe in yourself. You must be honest about the faith you have in yourself. If you truly think you can do this, then develop your business plan and prepare to jump in feet first.

“There’s another way to survive — mutual trust and help.”

Building a business is not a single-handed endeavor. If you want your business to thrive — and not just survive — you must be willing to trust those running the business with you. When starting out, make sure your first hires are trustworthy people who share your vision. Choose candidates you know you can trust completely to have the good of the company at heart.

“Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.”

Sure, predicting the right moment to launch a company or introduce a new product or service involves studying trends, but it also requires a finely tuned intuition. Sometimes, all you have to go on in business is a gut feeling. If you have reasons to support those instincts, don’t be afraid to listen to them.

“If I can have honesty, it’s easier to overlook mistakes.”

This quote speaks to the importance of transparency in everything a business does. No business leader is perfect. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. You’ll make the wrong call. When you’re transparent with your employees about what happened, they’ll be far more likely to continue to trust you and your judgement.

“A captain of a ship, no matter his rank, must follow the book.”

Even if you’re the founder and CEO, you don’t want to place yourself in a separate category than everyone else at your company. Sure, it might be easier to circumvent particular processes or rules, but when you do so, everyone notices. People naturally struggle to feel connected to and loyal to leaders who play by different rules than the ones they set for everyone below them. Show your employees you’re all on the same team by following the same rules. The result will be far greater coherence within your team.

Building and successfully running a company can be a challenge for anyone. Those who enjoy the character of Captain Kirk, however, will find a considerable amount of wisdom about how to be successful in the quotes from the captain and from the actor, William Shatner. Consider some of the wisdom above and see how you can apply it to your own company. If you’re interested in improving your marketing efforts, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

The Power of Personalization

Young woman, eyes closed portrait
Young woman, eyes closed portrait

Print marketing is still one of the best and most effective ways to connect with your target audience and create brand awareness on a large scale. For starters, print marketing is tangible — you’re giving a person something they can hold in their hands and, more importantly, something they can pass along to a friend or family member.Despite the many benefits of print marketing as a medium, many people still seem to miss one of its most powerful and most natural tools: personalization. When you take a look at just how effective personalization can be, you’ll be shocked you weren’t embracing it in the past.Personalization: By the Numbers

In 2012, the industry organization InfoTrends conducted a study on marketing communication. It revealed several interesting facts, all of which are important to know when planning your nextmarketing campaign. The good news is that print marketing is alive and well, even in an era where everyone carries a smartphone or other type of mobile device with them at all times.

The better news is that marketing materials featuring high levels of personalization yield a dramatically higher ROI over ones sent out in a uniform or more generic manner.

The InfoTrends survey covered more than 1,000 businesses in 10 industries. Nearly two thirds used personalization or segmentation techniques to increase response and conversion rates. One of the respondents who used personalized print materials exclusively experienced a response rate of around 6% and a conversion rate of over 16%. Compare this with the average 2% response rate more generic materials generate, and the power of personalization becomes abundantly clear.

Things get even more impressive when you combine personalization with other best practices of modern marketing, like combining print and digital to reach a wider audience. For example, the respondents who utilized print and e-mail materials with high levels of personalization reported a response rate of 7.6% and a conversion rate of over 18%.

Why Personalization Matters

When you personalize your marketing materials, you’re taking that extra step to show your target audience how much you really care about them. Instead of addressing a direct mail brochure with the generic and calculated “Dear Sir or Madame,” you can take advantage of the basic technique of including their name — which, keep in mind, is information you already have if you’re sending them something in the mail.

Believe it or not, this does go a long way. It instantly creates a much more organic connection with the person reading your materials and subconsciously separates your mailer from others that may not be personalized at all.

Personalized print marketing is also inherently more impressive than personalized digital materials of the same variety. Everyone has a computer, and they know how quickly you can change an e-mail to include a name. Changing a print mailer, however, takes a little more thought and effort (though not as much as you’d think). Your effort will definitely be appreciated by the recipient.

Not only is print marketing alive and well, but one of its most powerful assets is something many businesses aren’t even using. Personalizing your print materials will go a long way toward creating a more meaningful and long-lasting connection with your target audience and increasing your ROI.

Integrating Social Media and Print: Leveraging the Best of Both Worlds to Your Advantage

Young man with arm around twin brother, close-up
Young man with arm around twin brother, close-up
It’s certainly no secret that social media is increasingly becoming one of the single most important tools to connect with your target audience in the most meaningful ways possible. After all, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more have hundreds of millions of unique users who are actively engaged in social activities on a daily basis. It would be a shame to let such a valuable resource go to waste.At the same time, you certainly don’t want to neglect your print campaign. It’s still one of the most effective marketing weapons in your arsenal and always will be. So how do you ensure you’re paying equal attention to both print and social media?

The answer is simple: integrate social media into your print campaign and leverage the benefits both have to offer.

Grab Attention and Refuse to Let it Go

In today’s crowded marketplace, the goal of any campaign is to grab the attention of prospective customers. You aren’t just trying to sell a product or service — you’re trying to quickly show why your product or service is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.

Integrating social media elements into your print campaigns is one of the best ways to accomplish that. It allows you to get your message in front of more people in the places they’re most comfortable holding that conversation.

For an example of this concept in action, consider the hashtag. People use hashtags for everything from highlighting key words and phrases in a post to finding trends, joining ongoing conversations, and adding a definitive statement at the end of a sentence. By including a hashtag at the end of your print mailer, you’re giving your customers multiple options regarding how they can join the conversation and communicate with your brand. If they’d like to continue to learn more about your product or service via the hashtag, they can always do so. If not, they can continue their exposure by way of the print materials the same way they always have.

In essence, you’re giving them choices, which is one of the best ways to grab their attention and refuse to let it go.

Tracking Success

Integrating social media and print is also a great, easy way to track the success of a particular campaign over a long-term basis. Consider putting a unique hashtag on the end of each print piece you mail. If messages with that hashtag are then retweeted 200,000 times on Twitter, you know your message is being received loud and clear and that your target audience is more than willing to continue the conversation online.

Digital and print marketing don’t have to be independent of one another. Anyone who tells you it’s a “one or the other” proposition is wrong. Print and digital are both great at accomplishing their own things, or even the same things in different ways. By integrating social media and print together, you’re combining the benefits of both platforms into one environment and are truly creating a “best of both worlds” scenario.